The start of summer means that many of us are planning far-flung summer vacations. But the excitement of such vacations is always just a little dulled by the insanely long lines at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Stories of three-hour wait times and hundreds of missed flights because of slow security lines have become unfortunately commonplace.
Ever wonder why long lines and wait times occur in the government (think: Medicaid, the Veteran’s Administration, the DMV, etc.) and not in the private sector?
It’s because the private sector responds rapidly to price signals, demand, and supply. The government, meanwhile, is insulated from these market forces. If you have to wait two hours for a Chipotle burrito, you’re probably not going back. But with government, you don’t have any other choice (Just try picking up your driver’s license without queuing at the DMV).
In the video below, Yeshiva University Professor James Otteson discusses how the TSA straddles (and sometimes steps over) the line between security and liberty. The more security features the TSA rolls out—through the use of naked body scanners, strip searches, confiscation of toothpaste, etc.—the more it infringes on our liberty.
At what point do we say, “enough!” and accept some small risk in return for liberty? Unfortunately, with the TSA’s growing power, Otteson argues, we’ve lost the choice to make the trade-off at all.
It’s certainly something to dampen our summer vacations.